India overcame Australia 2-1 in the four-match Test series at their own backyard to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. India claimed a maiden series win here and credit to Virat Kohli’s side for stepping it up against the hosts. The scoreline could have been 3-1, but that wasn’t possible after rain and bad light affected the fourth Test match at the SCG.
India’s win in Adelaide and Melbourne, besides the dominance in Sydney, saw them stay ahead of Australia throughout the series. The only defeat came in Perth when the hosts fed on India’s wrong team selection and made maximum purchase from the surface on offer.
For India, there were many defining moments that helped them win the Test seres. It was one of the series that was won by fine margins. The quality on offer was evident and it showed how India gained valuable experience from the Test series earlier in South Africa and England.
India didn’t repeat mistakes as seen in these two series in particular. Also, Australia were weakened by numerous issues and are a team in transition. They were nowhere near to the cricket they produced at home in the 2017-18 Ashes against England.
Credit to Kohli for becoming the first Asian skipper to win a Test series in Australia. The achievement is so mean feat and goes down as one of the most significant ever in the history of Indian cricket.
Here we analyse how India won its maiden series in Australia.
India started off well in Adelaide
India showed their affirmation of being the number one team in the world. They needed to get off to a strong start and that was seen in Adelaide. Despite being rocked early on, Cheteshwar Pujara’s sublime 123-run knock got them to 250 in the first innings. The momentum was with India and those extra runs gave them the confidence to breathe.
Pujara’s innings set the tone for the rest of the series. The valuable 15-run lead in the first innings coupled with a special show from Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in the second innings contributed to something substantial. The bowlers chipped in and surged past the Aussie resistance.
The 31-run win was the perfect scenario that set the Test series alive. One cannot forget the contribution from the Indian bowling quartet, who continued to pile pressure and didn’t allow the Aussies to settle.
Partnerships played a role
Partnerships were one aspect that saw India enjoy advantage over Australia. It was one area that India had the edge over the hosts and that was evident throughout. Pujara’s 62-run stand with R Ashwin for the seventh wicket was just the start. In the second innings in Adelaide, the 30-year-old put in another shift and added that important 87-run stand with Ajinkya Rahane.
In Melbourne, the credit went to debutant Mayank Agarwal, whose 83-run stand with Pujara was a crucial one. The best thing happened when Pujara alongside Kohli added a mammoth 170-run stand to get India to 443/7.
India earned wins in both these Tests and could have also won in Sydney, where Pujara was once again in the thick of things. The 116-run stand with Mayank was followed by key 100+ stands with Hanuma Vihari and Rishabh Pant. Credit to India for batting well and countering the Aussie bowlers.
The partnerships helped them to declare while being in comfortable positions.
Pujara was in the thick of things
India weren’t dependent solely on skipper Kohli. This was a bright moment for the side. Unlike in South Africa and then in England, the visitors had set themselves through their captain. This series belonged to Pujara. He was the epitome of grit, character and culture of sorts.
Pujara defined his aura with some yesteryear Test cricket mentality. He was the fulcrum of this Indian team and one felt that the 30-year-old had all the time in the world. The Aussies never managed to stick for longer periods and so did many Indian batsmen. But Pujara showed why he loves this format.
His 521 runs in this series was of utmost value and significance. He looked in great shape and the positive mentality reflected through his batting. The senior pro handled responsibility well and gave the indication that India can afford to look beyond Kohli.
What worked for him was that his stay at the crease was purposeful and it wasn’t just defend. He worked for his runs and played freely.
Mayank and Pant were consistent
These two players were the biggest positives for India. Mayank made his debut in the third Test and looked settled from the word go. He continued with the same aura that helped him achieve success in domestic cricket. Mayank made the most out from his chance and India looked settled once again atop as long he was there.
His scores of 76 and 42 were top notch in Melbourne which helped India win the decisive Test. When the chips were down, he battled against the likes of Pat Cummins and Co. in the second innings. He scored a superb 77 in Sydney as well.
Pant was terrific and amassed many records. His consistency with the bat needs to be lauded. The 21-year-old scored 350 runs in the series and it was string of starts that eventually contributed to his 159* at the SCG. Pant has given India the comfort of a reliant player that can counter the opposition. He is a strong keeper-batsman and we knows what he is capable of.
Bumrah led the decisive bowling unit
The bowling was the highlight of the series. India won because they were the better side with the ball. The bowling unit picked up a staggering 70 wickets across seven innings. India weren’t desperate to finish off the tail. They rather stayed patience and waited to come up with a plan.
That shift in mentality struck the right chords. There was an urgency to get things right. The Indian pacers led by Jasprit Bumrah (21 wickets) were on top gear throughout. Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma gave him the much needed support.
The pace quartet played a strong hand to win the series. It was Bumrah’s nine wickets in Melbourne that caught the eye. The pacers accounted for 14 wickets in the Adelaide Test. R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja need to be praised for their efforts in the first and the third Test.
And the it was third choice spinner Kuldeep, who picked up a supreme five-for in the fourth Test. This is one area where the Aussies failed. Besides Nathan Lyon and Cummins, the rest didn’t offer consistency.